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Pet behaviour counsellor

  • Hours


  • Starting salary


Pet behaviour counsellors advise pet owners on how to deal with general control issues and problematic behaviour with their pets. If you have experience of handling and training animals, and you can develop good working relationships with their owners, this could be the job for you.

You’ll need good communication skills and a patient approach to your work. You’ll also need to be tactful when offering feedback to pet owners.

There is no set route into this job. Many new pet behaviour counsellors work towards membership of a professional body by completing a degree level qualification.


Work activities

You could work with animal behaviour problems like:

  • inappropriate noise, such as excessive barking
  • aggression towards people or animals
  • destructive behaviour
  • toileting issues
  • chasing livestock, cars or cyclists
  • phobias and fearful behaviours
  • general control

As a pet behaviour counsellor most of your work is likely to be with dogs or cats. On a day-to-day basis you could:

  • take referrals from vets
  • hold consultations in your own centre, in veterinary surgeries or in owners' homes
  • talk to the owner and observe the animal to get details of the problem
  • analyse the nature of the problem and the likely causes
  • draw up a behaviour-modification programme for the owner and pet to follow
  • liaise with other animal related professionals
  • keep in touch with owners to check progress
  • adapt the modification programme if necessary

Pet behaviour counsellors are responsible for the health and safety of pets, owners, themselves and other people when handling animals and recommending treatment plans. This is important because some animals can be aggressive.

You might also offer an animal training service.

You are likely to be self-employed, organising your own tax and insurance, and doing all the administrative tasks involved in running a business.

Working hours and conditions

As you're usually self-employed, you will decide your own working hours. However, you'll need to fit in with your clients' requirements, which could mean working evenings and weekends.

You could be based in your own premises, in veterinary surgeons' clinics or visit owners' homes. You may have to spend some time working outside to observe animals.

Most animal behaviourists spend some time travelling between clients or clinics. A driving licence will be useful.


Pet behaviour counsellors are usually self-employed and charge for each consultation. Charges can range from £85 to over £250.

Total earnings vary depending on the size of the business and your reputation as a pet behaviour counsellor. Counsellors may supplement their income with related work like animal training or writing articles on animal behaviour.

Entry requirements

There is no single entry route into this job. Many pet behaviour counsellors work towards membership of a professional body. This will show that you work to high educational and ethical standards, and have relevant experience.

Many new pet behaviour counsellors have at least a relevant degree level qualification. Related degree courses are offered by many higher education institutions and include:

  • animal management
  • animal behaviour
  • zoology with animal behaviour
  • animal behaviour and welfare

To do a degree, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including maths, English and science, plus three A levels. You should check with universities for exact entry requirements as other qualifications may also be accepted. Visit the UCAS website for more information about universities and the courses they offer.

You can also search for courses on the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour and Training (CIDBT) and the Pet Education, Training and Behaviour Council websites.

Whichever route you choose you’ll need extensive supervised training, as well as a significant practical, hands-on experience of working with animals. This could come from paid work, such as dog training or handling, or voluntary experience, for example in a kennels or veterinary surgery, or with an animal welfare organisation. Check out the following website for more information about volunteering opportunities in your local area:

Knowledge and experience in working with dogs is important, as most of your work as a pet behaviour counsellor is likely to be with dogs.

Employment within the animal care industry, particularly the animal welfare sector, may offer opportunities for progression into specialised training related to animal behaviour and training.

Take a look at the websites of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC) and the Canine and Feline Behaviour Association (CFBA) for more information about becoming a pet behaviour counsellor.

Training and development

You’ll need to keep your skills and knowledge current, for example by attending workshops, seminars and conferences, and reading professional journals.

You can join professional bodies such as the APBC and the CFBA, who have various membership levels, depending on your qualifications and experience.

With the right qualifications and experience you can apply to the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour for Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist (CCAB) status. This will allow you entry onto the Register of Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourists. Visit the ASAB website for more information.

You could complete a postgraduate qualification such as a relevant MSc, or a PhD if you are interested in moving into research and already hold a degree. Search for courses on the Postgrad website.

Postgrad (Opens new window)

Skills, interests and qualities

To be a pet behaviour counsellor you should have:

  • animal-handling skills and experience
  • knowledge of dog training
  • good spoken and written communication skills
  • the ability to empathise with clients and gain their trust
  • patience
  • the ability to motivate pet owners
  • a tactful approach when offering advice
  • awareness of animal welfare legislation
  • have good coaching skills
  • awareness of your own limitations and the importance of involving other animal-related professionals when required



You would usually be self-employed or work in a private consulting firm, although you may find employment with an animal welfare charity.

You may find the following link useful for job vacancies and general reading:

Job market information

This section gives you an overview of the job area that this profile belongs to. You can use it to work out your next career move. It can help if you’re looking for a job now or want to do some further training.

The 'Market statistics' charts are based on figures from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The list of job vacancies under 'Apply for jobs' is from the Universal Jobmatch database. The vacancies are not from the National Careers Service.

Median income: Healthcare
Avg Inc
UK Sector
27017 33884
Gender: Healthcare
Female Male
76 24
Working pattern: Healthcare
Part-time Full-time Self-employed
31 54 15
Gaps in sector due to skills shortages: Healthcare
This sector All vacancies
33 23
Employment forecast: Healthcare
Forecast Employment Figures
Year Predicted nos. employed
2014 1178000
2015 1197000
2016 1202000
2017 1219000
2018 1251000
2019 1272000
2020 1291000

Jobs available on Universal Jobmatch

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